You've Got a Gun Pointed at Your Head
August 2020: I read this essay and added commentary for Episode 363 of the Everything Voluntary podcast.
You can't truly embrace liberty and the libertarian political philosophy until you understand something very important. Every second of every day, you have a gun pointed at your head.
What do I mean? It's obvious. Right now, you have a gun pointed at your head, ready to shoot and kill you. But you can't see it. My goal is to help you see it. It's there. It's always been there. Since the day you were born, it's been there.
There are people in this world, many of them, who want to control you. They aren't content with controlling only themselves. They want to control you, too. And the only way to do this is with violence. Some of them will walk up to you, point a gun at your head, and tell you to either hand over your money, or to get into their car. Others will walk into a ballot box and file a secret ballot, voting for the candidate who's made all sorts of promises that amount to controlling you. The means are somewhat different, though not really, but the end is the same. Control.
Why? Why do they want to control you? Two reasons: 1) Because they are dissatisfied with their lot in life. They don't like having to live off the sweat of their own brow. They want to live off the sweat of yours. It's much easier and less painful to live off of others. And 2) because they don't like what you are doing. You aren't hurting anybody, but what you are doing is offensive to them. And how dare you do something offensive to them!
How do I know that you have a gun pointed at your head? Because the moment you resist their control, the gun will become visible. It's just waiting to show itself. For now it's content with being invisible. That's been enough to keep you in line. The moment you decide to resist is the moment the gun takes forms. Try not paying your taxes. Try consuming certain plants in the privacy of your own home. Try paying an unlicensed practitioner for a service. Try buying raw milk. Try operating a lemonade stand. Try worshiping the wrong god. There are thousands of ways that we are being controlled. Resist any of them, and you will soon find yourself looking down the barrel of a gun. Resist further, and you will be shot.
Until you understand this hard truth, you cannot understand liberty. Learn it. See it.